Theatre

‘Manic Street Creature’ at the Edinburgh Fringe review – Radiant gig theatre explores mental health’s messiness

★★★★

Mental health is a typically turbulent and unpredictable subject matter, yet it is navigated with soaring melodies, gorgeous harmonies and warm hues in Maimuna Memon’s Manic Street Creature (the Manics don’t get much of a nod or feature in the more indie-sounding music). A balance is so perfectly struck between the rigidness of a rhythmic score, and the twists and turns of a relationship shaped by psychosis.

Our protagonist is Ria (Memon), a musician looking for busking work who bumps into Daniel, a Scot with manic depression who soon becomes her boyfriend. What follows is her attempting to manage her partner’s mental illness while also having the capacity for love. Just how much do we support our loved one’s mental health, and how much of it is our responsibility? Manic Street Creature’s exploration of these questions is wild and emotive.

‘Emotive’ being shaped by the music, of course. Choruses are repetitive, but catchy. Memon’s vocals are punchy while Rachel Barnes’ gentle cello blooms. There’s a handful of electric guitar melodies from Yusuf Memom (also on drums) which are gorgeous to listen to. The movement from the sensitive to the triumphant tracks are wonderfully smooth. They’re enchanting, and so deeply effecting.

The script is equally impressive, packed with vivid details, descriptions and metaphors to truly paint the dilemmas of mental health and attempting to understand another person’s psyche. Ria is frustrated when the perception of Dan she has formed in her head is not what appears in front of her when he’s on medication, and thus she concludes it is herself and self-love which she must work on first and foremost. In finishing with the same number as the beginning, Manic Street Creature in the rounded Roundabout of Summerhall comes perfectly full circle.

Manic Street Creature is now playing at Summerhall, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022, until 28 August.


Production Images: Eleonora Briscoe.

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